Q: While crossing the street near an intersection, walking on a manhole cover, I experienced an electric shock. At that time, an electrician was in the process of performing electrical repair and maintenance work at the intersection, pursuant to a contract with the city. Various light poles had been removed and replaced by temporary ones, and a temporary overhead power line had been run. Stray voltage has been found in the area.
A: Your attorney will seek to invoke the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur – to prove from circumstantial evidence that your accident resulted from an impropriety attributable to the work of the electrician. You must establish that the accident is of a kind that ordinarily does not occur in the absence of negligence, that the instrumentality causing the accident was in the exclusive control of the electrician, and that you did not contribute to this accident. Pedestrians are not subject to this kind of electric shock absent negligence. As to the element of exclusive control, the electrician was in the process of working at the intersection. You have told me nothing to indicate that you caused or contributed to this unfortunate occurrence. Rather, it appears simply that stray voltage had gotten loose. It is possible that the electrician will argue that it had no duty to a mere thirdparty. If so, your attorney will reply that the electrician had no right to launch a force or instrument of harm. Once the jury finds, under res ipsa loquitur, that the electrician negligently caused your electric shock, it necessarily follows that the electrician launched a force or instrument of harm.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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